How many calories is a quesadilla with just cheese?

A quesadilla is a popular Tex-Mex dish that typically consists of a tortilla filled with cheese and other ingredients, then grilled or fried until the cheese melts. When made with just cheese as the filling, a quesadilla makes for a quick, easy and tasty snack or light meal. But how many calories are actually in a basic quesadilla with just cheese?

The number of calories in a cheese quesadilla can vary depending on the size of the tortilla, type of cheese and amount used as the filling. Generally speaking, a medium-sized quesadilla made with just cheese will contain around 300-400 calories. This makes it a relatively light meal option for those looking for something quick and satisfying to eat.

Factors That Affect Quesadilla Calorie Count

There are a few key factors that determine the total calorie count of a cheese quesadilla:

Tortilla Size

The size of the tortilla used is one of the main determinants of a quesadilla’s calorie content. Small 6-inch tortillas contain around 80-120 calories each, while large 10-12 inch wraps can pack 200-300 calories per tortilla. So a quesadilla made on a bigger tortilla will have a higher calorie count.

Type of Cheese

The type of cheese used as filling also impacts the calorie amount. Softer cheeses like mozzarella tend to be lower in calories, with about 80-90 calories per ounce. Harder cheeses like cheddar and Monterey jack have roughly 110-120 calories per ounce. And Mexican-style cheeses like queso fresco and Oaxaca cheese contain around 100 calories per ounce. The more cheese stuffed into the quesadilla, the more calories it will provide.

Cooking Method

A quesadilla that is grilled or pan-fried in a small amount of oil will have slightly more calories than one that is toasted under a broiler or in a sandwich press. The added cooking fat and oil boosts the calorie content a bit. But the differences are quite small.


While we’re focused on a quesadilla with only cheese as the filling, adding other ingredients like meat, veggies, beans or sauce will increase the calorie amount. So a plain cheese quesadilla provides the lowest calorie option.

Calorie Ranges for Different Size Quesadillas

Taking into account the potential variations, here are some estimates for calorie ranges of quesadillas based on size:

Small Quesadilla (6-inch)

– Tortilla: 80-120 calories
– 1-2 ounces cheese: 80-240 calories
– Total Calories: 160-360 calories

A small quesadilla made with a 6-inch tortilla and 1-2 ounces of melted cheese will generally have between 160-360 calories. This makes for a light snack or part of a larger meal.

Medium Quesadilla (8-10 inch)

– Tortilla: 150-300 calories
– 2-4 ounces cheese: 160-480 calories
– Total Calories: 310-780 calories

A medium-sized quesadilla made with a standard 8-10 inch flour tortilla and 2-4 ounces of cheese will contain roughly 310-780 calories. This size works well for a light lunch or dinner.

Large Quesadilla (12 inch)

– Tortilla: 250-300 calories
– 4-6 ounces cheese: 320-720 calories
– Total Calories: 570-1,020 calories

Large quesadillas made on big 12-inch tortillas and stuffed with 4-6 ounces of cheese pack between 570-1,020 calories. This makes for a heftier meal with close to 1,000 calories.

So in general, a moderate 6-8 inch quesadilla with 2 ounces of cheese will come in around 300-400 calories. Watch portion sizes for higher calorie large quesadillas.

Calories in Common Cheese Types

The calories found in different cheese types commonly used in quesadillas can vary:

Cheese Calories per 1 oz
Cheddar 110-120
Monterey Jack 110-120
Queso Quesadilla 100
Pepper Jack 100
Mozzarella 80-90
Queso Fresco 100
Oaxaca 100

As you can see, harder aged cheeses like cheddar and Monterey jack have the most calories per ounce. Softer fresh cheeses like mozzarella and queso fresco are lower in calories per ounce.

Cheese Calorie Calculator

You can use this simple formula to estimate the calories just from the cheese based on type and amount used:

Cheese calories = Calories per oz of cheese x Number of oz of cheese

For example, for a quesadilla with 3 ounces of Monterey jack cheese:

Calories = 120 x 3 = 360 calories from cheese

Combine this with the calories from the tortilla size to get an overall estimate of total calories.

Tips for Lightening Up Your Quesadilla

If you’re looking to cut calories in your quesadilla, here are some tips:

– Use smaller 6-8 inch tortillas
– Choose lower-calorie cheese like mozzarella or Mexican-style cheeses
– Use just 1-2 ounces of cheese as filling
– Opt for grilling or broiling cooking methods
– Avoid adding extra oils, creams or fatty meats
– Use plenty of veggie fillings like peppers, onions, mushrooms
– Switch to a whole wheat tortilla for more fiber and nutrients
– Enjoy with salsa or guacamole instead of sour cream for dipping

With some simple adjustments like these, you can still enjoy the tasty flavor of quesadillas while lightening up the calorie load. Just be mindful of portions and ingredients.

Healthier Quesadilla Ideas

If you want a quesadilla that’s good for you, skip the fatty fillings and load it up with nutritious ingredients like:

– Sautéed veggies: mushrooms, spinach, onions, peppers
– Beans: black, pinto, cannellini
– Leftover chicken, pork or shrimp
– Fresh herbs: cilantro, basil, oregano
– Chili or taco-spiced ground turkey
– Diced avocado
– Jalapeños or other spicy peppers
– Corn kernels
– Shredded zucchini or eggplant

Combining flavorful produce, lean protein and fiber-filled beans makes for a satisfying quesadilla that doesn’t overload on calories, fat and carbs. Spice it up with salsa, salsa verde, guacamole or Greek yogurt instead of sour cream too.

Low-Calorie Quesadilla Recipes

Here are some tasty and nutritious quesadilla recipes to try that go light on the calorie count:

Veggie Quesadilla

– 1 whole wheat tortilla
– 2 oz mozzarella cheese
– 1/4 cup mushrooms
– 1/4 cup zucchini
– 1/4 cup bell pepper
– 1 tbsp fresh cilantro

1. Heat tortilla in a skillet over medium heat.
2. Sprinkle one half with cheese then top with sautéed mushrooms, zucchini and peppers.
3. Fold tortilla in half and cook until cheese melts, about 2 minutes per side.
4. Slice into wedges and top with cilantro.

About 350 calories, 19g protein, 11g fiber

Chicken Avocado Quesadilla

– 1 whole wheat tortilla
– 2 oz Oaxaca or mozzarella cheese
– 1/4 cup shredded chicken
– 2 tbsp cubed avocado
– 1 tbsp salsa
– Lime wedge

1. Heat tortilla on skillet over medium heat.
2. Sprinkle with cheese, chicken and avocado.
3. Cook until cheese melts, fold tortilla and heat 1 minute more per side.
4. Slice into wedges and squeeze lime juice on top.

About 400 calories, 28g protein, 7g fiber

Shrimp Quesadilla

– 1 whole wheat tortilla
– 1.5 oz pepper jack cheese
– 1/4 cup cooked shrimp
– 1 tbsp salsa
– Lime wedge

1. Heat tortilla on skillet over medium heat.
2. Sprinkle with cheese and shrimp.
3. Cook until cheese melts, fold tortilla and cook 1 minute more.
4. Slice into wedges, top with salsa and lime juice.

About 330 calories, 28g protein, 5g fiber

Quesadilla Calories Compared to Other Snacks/Meals

To put it in perspective, here’s how a plain cheese quesadilla’s calorie count stacks up against some other popular snacks and light meals:

– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Grilled cheese sandwich (400 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Slice of pizza (250-300 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Bowl of oatmeal (150 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich (450 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Bagel with cream cheese (350 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Baked potato with fixings (230 calories)
– Quesadilla (300 calories) vs. Burrito bowl with rice, beans, meat (500-800 calories)

A quesadilla made with a moderate amount of cheese is lower in calories than an extra cheesy grilled cheese, slice of pizza, or peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It provides more calories than a bowl of oatmeal or baked potato, but overall is a good light meal choice in the 300-400 calorie range.


A quesadilla made with just cheese as the filling generally contains between 300-400 calories for a moderately sized 8-10 inch tortilla with 2 ounces of cheese melted inside. Smaller quesadillas clock in around 200 calories, while larger stuffed quesadillas can reach up to 1,000 calories.

Factors like tortilla size, cheese type and amount, cooking method and added fillings impact the totals. Choosing lower calorie cheeses like mozzarella and keeping portions in check makes for a lighter take on this cheesy Tex-Mex favorite. Loading your quesadilla up with healthy fillings like veggies, beans and lean protein can also help cut the calories while pumping up nutrition.

Overall, a simple cheese quesadilla makes for a tasty anytime snack or meal that doesn’t break the calorie bank. Just be conscious of overstuffing the tortillas and picking high-fat, high-calorie ingredients for a healthier fix.

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